Several weeks ago I started digging for a women’s Bible study. I wanted to lead a small group with some amazing, kick your butt with Jesus, kind of material. I found “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann with no ‘e’. I think this book, this study, this author, her writing, her words – I listen to her on audio, have changed my life.
It hasn’t been an instant process, but I want to “stack some stones” today and remember where I was. When this study started, I was obedient to the Lord to chase after Jesus. I’ve really tried to embrace this study as an opportunity. I’ve done the reading, writing, journal-ling, praying, and practicing. I have learned how to physically open my hands to the gifts of God. I have learned that with God, everything can be made beautiful. Everything. He is here, he is now. It is my responsibility to choose to believe in His presence.
I’m a bit trapped in this stupid, tired body right now. Life doesn’t stop. I’ve really had to take some big sacrifices to the altar in the past few weeks. I actually sent out an offer to sell the flower shop. I can’t do mom, and teacher, and flower girl in one day anymore. The stress of the kids and their natural, innocent needs on top of business needs and our home and finally myself… it makes for a long day. I can barely keep up with just the kids and the house. I’ve decided to make some shift changes at work and suck up the extra payroll until I can get feeling better, consistently, for a few months. Toby and I are moving forward as though my disease process is MS or a variant thereof, because otherwise, we are waiting for another major attack, more lesions on my brain, or a bad spinal tap. Instead of waiting and responding, I want to fight now.
I have completely overhauled my diet. I am on my 17th day of being dairy, sugar, and gluten free. It’s been a difficult process. One that I wouldn’t have been able to commit to in year’s past. But, the thing of it is, I am feeling so bad that I am desperate. The sacrifice of food that I adore is less painful to me than what I am dealing with on a daily basis with my health.
It’s been very difficult to schedule much of anything. Toby and I are on a week by week basis! Seriously. I never know from one day to the next how I will feel, how tired I will be, or how much pain I will be in. I cannot read a short story out loud to Tate without taking two or three breaks because my throat tightens up while talking. I cannot fold a basket of laundry in one shot or vacuum all at once. I grieve, daily, for the stuff I want to do but am not able to. My garden sits unattended Mid-March. New record for me. My flower shop sits, projects unfinished throughout. Dreams are building up, the potential makes me giddy. The reality of never getting to that full potential because of circumstances haunts me. I’m willing to let go, now. Hopeful I won’t have to. Hope.
The thing I love most about this one thousand gift thing, is the process in which the author shares how to find the joy of the Lord – the hope – in all circumstances. Her theory is to approach life with this strategy: at all times give thanks. When we have thankful hearts, we have thankful eyes. With thankful eyes you can see God’s beauty in bigger and bolder ways. When you are in this grace of God, seeing all the amazing things He has done, His gifts for you, you find true joy. That joy clings to you, enlightens you, lifts you, supports you, and gives you hope. I need hope.
I’ve decided to share my list of hope. My list of gifts. My list of God’s grace on my life. I’m not to 1,000 – far from it. But, I look forward to adding this to my blog and hope that you’ll join me with your own journal of eucharisteo.
- Toby – his strong arms around me.
- My mom’s curly, dark hair.
- Playing at the flower shop after hours.
- Kids playing. Outside.
- Toys scattered on the floor, left behind by healthy, happy kids.
- Our square coffee table. It’s been everywhere we’ve been. Re-surfaced. So many memories in the scratches. Sticky goo. Never clean. Fingerprints. Perfect.
- Houseplants to care for. Or kill.
- Squishy, soft playful Texi dog.
- My gift of creativity/design.
- The change in Tripp’s cry – baby to boy.
- Family pictures taken by family friends.
- Watching my kids relationship grow with their Aunty Yanna.
- Heating pad. Instant comfort.
- Fruit scented lotion.
- Kids finding each other in hide-n-seek. Thrill & shrill.
- Freezer full of meat.
- Pen, paper, and hands to write with.
- Decorating my house.
- My so-perfectly-made-for-me bed.
- Falling asleep easy.
- Getting a nap when you need one.
- Getting a nap when you need one with a baby boy snug beside you.
- The endurance to stick with a difficult diet.
- Hamilton’s grace on our home.
- McCall memories.
- Toby’s victories and defeats in MMA and BJJ.
- Forever friends, Shawna, Kim, and Samantha.
- Tripp’s twoism’s: endless jabbering to three piece sentences, personality, easy excitement. Curiosity and the courage to go ahead and do it.
- Morning messy hear of baby boy.
- The NFL.
- That my husband’s hot. Super hot.
- Feeling better. Pain-free days.
- Feeling up to going out. Wanting to go. Gaining momentum.
- Beautiful girls grateful for what they have.
- Brand new dish sponges.
- Tripp mumbling prayers “ay-meh!”
- My husband’s financial support of our family and flower shop.
- The guts to sell the shop. Opening my hands to God’s will.
- Warm morning glow through the windows.
- Not letting food or drink control me.
- Organized house.
- Key chains.
- My Barbara.
- Emilie, Carla, Shane, Autumn, Kelsie, Alexa, Tricia, Donna, Greg… along the way at the flower shop. ❤
- Jeans – almost too small for my little blonde Tate. Knees split almost clear through. Memories. Growth. Play hard.
- Abundance of clothing. Laundry.
- Transfiguration of my lenses to see beauty and glory and peace and joy and hope every day in all circumstances.
- Baby boy yawns.
- Being still long enough at the lunch table to sit, talk, play, and giggle big with my three.
- Springtime – new hopes for the garden, veggies, herbs, fruit, flowers, nature. Excited.
- Homeskool – this additional experience with my girls. Time. Meaningful time.
- Softest baby boy skin, warm against mine.
- Carpet freshener with fragrance that is nicer than puppy pee.
- 1st world problems.
- Africa! To Liberia and beyond!
- Kindle – audiobooks, games, ease of use.
- Stretchy pants.
- Second chances.
- Third chances.
- Gift certificate for a massage in the mail. I love you, smiley face!
- Church family.
This is as far as I am right now. My list makes me smile and makes me feel good. I want to find more things to add. That is the mindset we must be in with each new morning! I need a lot more practice, but I think that this meaningful and intentional act of slowing down to see God is changing me. I do feel a bit more gentle with my kids and less rushed to get through life. Crazy, huh? I think the biggest challenge I have is recognizing God’s gifts are here, right now. In the stress of life, we don’t feel them, not because they aren’t there, but because we choose to focus on the stress and that’s when life feels unbearable. I don’t want that life anymore. My heart is changing. ❤
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